Councillor Josh Matlow

Ford Government’s Housing Bill will make Affordable Housing Crisis Worse

The Ford government’s Bill 109, More Homes for Everyone Act, is an irresponsible and disappointingly immature response to a serious issue. The Act, introduced in the provincial legislature on March 30th, 2022, is of particular concern to the City of Toronto as it financially penalizes municipalities for not approving a development within 90 days. This could have the perverse effect of slowing the development process down as more developments will end up at the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). To read more about the issues with Bill 109, what solutions are genuinely needed to the housing crisis and what action you can take to help, please click here.

When a planner is considering a development proposal for a site like Honest Ed’s, the Galleria, or Canada Square in my community, 90 days irresponsible. Technical issues such as sewer capacity, ground water displacement, wind shear mitigation, and others, must be analyzed by City engineers. These technical matters are often not dealt with correctly on the first submission and achieve compliance with City standards through an iterative process between the applicant and Staff.

Ninety days also doesn’t provide enough time to identify and implement community benefits. Developers don’t have the expertise to assess the appropriate amenity for a neighbourhood. The City has professional staff that conduct community needs assessments through consultation with residents and data analysis.
But that’s just the beginning of the process. Subsidized childcare centres are complicated and can take months to nail down. If the City secures affordable housing it has to determine tenure, level of affordability, and the administrator. Supportive housing is even more complex.

There’s more. Materiality. Design. Neighbourhood context. Transit interface. Parking complement. At-grade retail. Landscaping. And on and on. Community Planners usually consult with and require sign off from many other divisions and internal departments including Transportation Services, Parks, Forestry, Engineering & Construction Services, Urban Design, Housing Secretariat, Toronto Water, and Toronto Building.

As a whole, all these matters probably can’t, and definitely shouldn’t, be resolved in 90 days. Our City Planners have a duty to Torontonians to ensure that developments are safe and contribute to a high quality of life. If the developer can’t satisfy those requirements in 90 days there will likely be more refusal reports than we are currently seeing, sending more projects to the OLT.

The OLT is backlogged and it can take months and sometimes years just to get a hearing date and require high-priced lawyers and expert witnesses. The hearings also eat up an exorbitant amount of City Planner’s time, taking them away from reviewing applications and making the problem the government is looking to solve even worse.

The real solutions include addressing speculation and the financialization of housing, rent control, government-built affordable housing, and support for construction trade education. The Ford government’s Bill 109 response to these issues is either underwhelming or ignores them altogether.

Implementing an arbitrary 90 day time limit with financial penalties that does not consider the size or complexity of the project is disastrously bad policy and will not help the very real housing crisis Toronto is facing. That’s why this motion requests the Chief Planner to provide written comments to the provincial government on Bill 109, More Homes for Everyone Act on behalf of the City

Bill 109, More Homes for Everyone Act was referred to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly on April 4th, 2022. The deadline is 7:00 p.m. on Monday, April 11, 2022 to submit written comments on the Act. Please click here to submit your comments

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